Awesome bioengineering: the living bridges of Cherrapunji

In north east India, bridges aren't built - they're grown! The rainforests of Cherrapunji are credited with being one of the wettest places on Earth, and timber bridges would quickly rot. Locals have an innovative solution - grow bridges out of living trees. Like many in the banyan family, the rubber fig has secondary roots that grow above the soil surface. By guiding these roots across chasms, villagers can slowly grow a strong, permanent bridge. Amazing pictures below the fold!


More pictures and info are available on the Living Root Bridges blog.

Hat tip to Mo at Neurophilosophy


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That is amazing holy crud imgine the possibilities they should totally use that in like an Indiana Jones movie. That is simply amazing imgine if we were to use that more often for other types of engineering projects than we wouldn't have to worry so much about global warming or structural integrity.

By Element alchemist (not verified) on 08 Aug 2009 #permalink

Yeah that's right! We wouldn't have to worry about structural integrity at all! Doesn't matter what weight you put on the bridge, nature will just like, kind of do it, yeah? Cool.

And those bridges like, they sort of solve global warming as well. Wow.

Simply imgine it.

I am imgine-ing so hard right now about the possibilities that I may just burst.

By jake puff (not verified) on 08 Aug 2009 #permalink

Wow. I am imgining it too---plants are just awesome! we shouldn't eat them, theyre just majick

The only obstacle now is to undo the previous generation of environMENTAL rules that banned the Banyan tree. Too much growth, ban fast growing plants like the Banyan. Not enough green, ban industrial engineering.

these comments are weird. ????? great bridges!

I would imgining it too, if I knew what that means. These bridges are quite useless..Don't see how they could support the weight of my Hummer.

that's incredible! thank you for sharing!

clearly this is what god intended the trees to be used for

I want to live in a town made completely of bio engineered structures.

I'm a tree

agreed wit danielle. or at least for a while or a visit. i think d thatd be effin awesome hah.

Of course they're not meant to accommodate Hummers; that was the joke, tard.

You cant have a hummer made of tree roots, tard

I would love to see this adapted for providing shade over roads or parking lots. Too much blacktop just baking in direct Florida summer heat.

There's a stretch of road near my house with big oak trees on either side. No matter the time of day, it's aways in the shade. It's beautiful, almost the iconic image of a two-lane rural road. But trees can't support cantilevered limbs like that for anything more than two lanes. Fig trees supported on both sides seem like the only way to go.

@20. Jared
Nice idea, but these are roots not branches - they have no leaves, so not very good at creating shade!

Found this through Stumble. Really cool idea. Only problem is that we in the West don't have the patience for the years it would take to make a root bridge.

This comment thread is hilarious.

Just imagine.. 5-10 years to build a bridge that you take 1-2 months to build with steel and concrete..

Just saying that the concept is good for india.. but here? not at all..

Ever see a bridge... on weed??

By Jon Stewart (not verified) on 06 Feb 2013 #permalink

Looks good for now, but what happens when plants turn against us? The Fig isn't part of the Venus Fly Trap family, is it? I'd hate to be eaten by a bridge.

"Do you know Teresa Green""


"Well, they are!"

By Arthur T. Murray (not verified) on 06 Feb 2013 #permalink

Why the fuck do the comments look like they were made by 12 year olds?

Well Indian govt. never leaves any steel or concrete for its people so they have to use these methods

The bridges are in the rain forest. Are these bridges for monkeys?

By Billy Bob (not verified) on 06 Feb 2013 #permalink

I imgine that monkeys can use them too.

By 8/9/09 was a g… (not verified) on 06 Feb 2013 #permalink

i like roots; that become bridges, the trees are helping us............................................

By Human Person (not verified) on 06 Feb 2013 #permalink

As a monkey I have no need or reason to use bridges, I merely swing from branch to branch.

By Jungle VIP (not verified) on 06 Feb 2013 #permalink